By Shawnelle Martineaux Nylo (Originally published to the T&T Newsday 16/08/2016)
MAINTAINING focus while staying hungry for personal growth and development are two things Marcus Waldron was encouraged by mentors to think about when he was not selected for Yale’s Master of Fine Arts (MFA) Directing Programme.
Instead, the young man was accepted as a 2016 special research fellow for theatre directing at the internationally acclaimed Yale School of Drama in New Haven Connecticut, USA. There, he will take MFA level courses to further develop his craft for a one-year period. He is deeply interested in Carnival and Afro-Caribbean rituals in religious practice. He also has interest in how distinct cultures connect on a stage and interplay to unite people, while still maintaining their unique flavours.
When he discovered theatre directing while studying for his BA degree in his second year at the University of The West Indies (UWI), he did not expect that it would change the trajectory of his life, but now, he intends it to be his life’s work. It all started with an underwhelming directing attempt and ever since, he has been determined to perfect his craft. Following in the footsteps of stalwart theatre professionals like Tony Hall, Dr Lester Efebo Wilkinson and specifically, the late Dr Errol Hill, a Yale School of Drama alumnus, Waldron has his eyes set on the prize.
At Yale, he will be exposed to a world class theatre education at a top-tier school. Yale has given us the likes of actors Meryl Streep, Lupita Nyong’o and Angela Bassett, along with theatre critic Robert Burstein and St Lucian playwright Derek Walcott. It is safe to say that his experience will be fruitful and benefit TT ’s theatre.
Waldron considers Trinidadian theatre to be very rich and praises it for its quality. He cites Rawle Gibbons and several other Trinidadian theatre practitioners as proof of local talent and is motivated to work his hardest by their work, as well as by the fact that TT theatre is severely under-represented internationally, despite its high quality.
One point he has gleaned from a mentor is that Trinidadians do not know or often overlook the fact that they do not matter. He believes that the two possible outcomes that could arise from this are that people could either accept their unimportance, which would then yield the unspectacular, or they could be inspired to do great things, in order to make themselves and their voices matter.
“We are talented people and I see this as an opportunity to spark hope and inspire fresh thinking on our cultural-theatrical landscape. Our stories are universal ones and they matter, regardless of our small size.”
One thing that is certain is that Marcus intends to make his voice matter to the world. He will do his part to present the great aspects of local culture and has the long-term goal of creating good, clear and exciting commercial theatre that is inspired by various international cultures.
He does, however, describe Trinidadian theatre as being in a state of transition, where the volume of youth entering the field far exceeds the availability of creative outlets. His primary concern is with theatre administrators who curate art and decide where money is invested as well as the inflexibility of more seasoned theatre practitioners, who often insist that their ways of practice are the only valid ways. He believes that youth, himself included, have a lot to offer in the field and that collaboration across generations is tantamount to theatre’s success in the TT context.
He referenced productive collaborations such as the Monday Night Theatre Forum, Best Village and the upcoming New Play Festival at the Trinidad Theatre Workshop in October, 2016.
Further, he expressed enthusiasm for theatre’s imminent blossoming in TT . It is his view that theatre requires open-mindedness, without which creativity cannot flow. He noted that there are plays of extremely high quality performed in pockets all over the country and is very optimistic about the future of theatre when increased collaboration becomes the norm. Waldron believes that team spirit, curiosity and an appreciation for all life’s complexities are three qualities that all creative people possess. He is governed by principles of truth, love, determination and balance and always tries to surround himself with positive energy. He experiences the most joy in the company of friends and family.
His time at Yale has been sponsored by the Insurance Company of the West Indies, an organisation birthed from the entrepreneurial spirit of post-independence Jamaica, serving clients in eight Caribbean territories. Another sponsor is M+M Insurance Company. He is grateful to senior lecturer Dani Lyndersay for her confidence in his ability to be accepted at Yale, his mentors Marvin George, Camille Quamina and Tony Hall, who always answered his questions.
He also credits his mother, Barbara Waldron who, despite very difficult times has constantly been his rock of support, with her unwavering belief that he should pursue his dreams.
He is also thankful to supportive friends, to the staff at UWI’s Department of Carnival and Festival Arts and to the Good Samaritan whom, after reading his story, decided to significantly contribute to his efforts.
From his work in theatre, Waldron has learnt the importance of determination and co-operation, which he intends to extend to all other areas of his life.
He intends to strive hard to attain the high goals he has set for himself and he expects to do TT proud.